ESG Trends and C-suite Sentiment in 2021

For decades, companies tiptoed around ESG, avoiding opportunities to speak on delicate current issues, like climate change, social inequality, or fair working conditions. Today, it has the power to drive sales growth, affect operational efficiency, determine supply chains, set the value of your brand, and influence your success in the war on talent.

To comply with these emerging trends, companies (particularly C-Suite business leaders) are making serious ESG investments, conducting more reporting, disclosing more information, and updating shareholders on their ESG progress during quarterly earnings calls.

It’s clear that C-Suite leaders are feeling the pressure to deliver meaningful ESG strategies in 2022 and beyond. We partnered with SAP in our latest report, ESG and Sustainability Trends in C-Suite in 2021, and dug into transcripts from quarterly earnings calls in AlphaSense to better understand the ESG topics that are top-of-mind for C-Suite in 2022, how sustainability compares to other business topics like digital transformation or procurement, and which industries are committed to ESG and how it’s trending in each industry.

Below, get a peek at some of the insights included in the report. Want the full report? Download it here.

Sustainability Mentions in Earnings Transcripts Went Up 44% Since 2018

In Q2 2021, the keyword “sustainability” and all corresponding synonyms (example: ESG, governance, risk, etc.) appeared 4,692 times in earnings calls. Sustainability mentions in quarterly earnings transcripts went up 44% since 2018 and up 30% YoY.

Mentions peaked Q1 2020 and the highest quarterly % change was Q4 2019 to Q1 2020 ~ +18%

c suite sustainability trends

Sustainability is the #1 Trending Topic Across All Business Topics

By and large, sustainability and ESG are the highest trending topics in earnings calls across all business topics—even compared to digital transformation.

top trending topics across all business topics

Want to dig into the rest of our findings? Download ESG and Sustainability Trends in C-Suite in 2021: The Winners, Losers, and Future Outlook to hear thoughts from Daniel Schmid, Chief Sustainability Officer at SAP, and Jack Kokko, CEO and Co-Founder of AlphaSense, on the future of ESG.


AlphaSense is a market intelligence platform used by the world’s leading companies and financial institutions. Since 2011, our AI-based technology has helped professionals make smarter business decisions by delivering insights from an extensive universe of public and private content—including company filings, event transcripts, news, trade journals, expert calls, broker reports, and equity research. Our platform is trusted by over 2,000 enterprise customers, including a majority of the S&P 100. Headquartered in New York City, AlphaSense employs over 1,000 people across offices in the U.S., U.K., Finland, Germany, and India.

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